The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 26, 2013

Mayor, council oppose proposed bills limiting business-license fees

By Jean Cole

— Athens and other cities across Alabama are opposing legislation that would take money out of city coffers.

Two proposed bills — Senate Bill 217 and House Bill 257 — are designed to amend the Alabama Constitution to prevent cities and counties from imposing a business-license fee on a per-unit basis on residential rental property unless the tax was imposed before Jan. 1.

Mayor Ronnie Marks opposes the bills because he says taxing rental property on a per-unit basis is essential to Athens and other cities as a means to produce revenue. If passed into law, the bills would allow cities and counties to tax only on the entire unit, not each unit. He said many of the owners of these buildings are absentee landlords.

“This is not necessary and it cuts into our potential revenue stream in this city and throughout the state,” said Marks, who is on the executive board of the Alabama League of Municipalities.

In response, the League has drafted a resolution opposing the change, which the Athens City Council approved during their regular meeting Monday.